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Interview; Jo Want

The November boxes included the most gorgeous illustration by Jo Want of Hello Sunshine to accompany the Pyjama Party theme. Jo creates custom “Sunshine Portraits” (I have one of the family hanging in the hallway) as well as jewellery and homewares amongst other amazing goodies, make sure to check her page out. I interviewed Jo to find out more about her business.

I am so excited to have our very own SewHayleyJane Sunshine Print! Did you enjoy creating it?

I really did enjoy it! I always love a new kind of project and creating a cute little sleepover scene with a sewing theme was great fun!

Tell us a bit about your business, how did you get started?

I have always been creative and naturally chose to study art throughout school, college and uni but I always wanted to travel too. So I finished my Decorative Arts degree in 2006 and went off to explore as much of the world as I could afford to at the time. Whilst I was travelling I started to draw some of my friends and family because I was quite homesick. When I came home, a year later, I gave them my little doodles and to my surprise, people started asking me to draw other people they knew and from there the Sunshine Portraits were born!

What does a typical day look like for you? Can you tell us about your workspace?

My days can vary so much, depending on whether I have more commission based work and drawing on the go or if I have wholesale orders to make jewellery for but there are some constant factors which mostly include; being harassed by cats, making tea/coffee, some form of exercise, order packing, emails and calendar planning/shuffling, making snacks, a Post Office trip, to do list ticking, planning for the next day, more tea and snacks, tidying the studio and kitty cuddles.

What are the best and worst parts of running your business?

I LOVE being in my happy place (my studio) and working from home, it’s a big bright room full of all of my favourite things and with the kitchen just downstairs a brew is never far away. Being my own boss and planning my time around what I need (and want) to do every day/week is a real bonus – I am lucky enough to live near the river in Cambridge too so lunch breaks on sunny days or a cheeky morning paddle on my SUP (stand up paddleboard) are a real treat and if I ever fancy something naughty for lunch I’m only a short bike ride away from town.

However, as I’m sure a lot of people who run their own business from home will agree, it can get quite lonely and spending too much time alone with my thoughts can take its toll. It’s important for me to get out, chat to people and engage with others (in real life and online) to make it through the days and it took me a while to realise this. My kitties, Toby and Pegs play a very important part in my daily life – they provide entertainment, love and ‘conversation’ when I need it (especially if The Beard isn’t around). I probably talk to the cats and myself more than I should!

Where does inspiration for new products come from?

Food, Cats, Food, Sunshine, Food, Adventures, Food, Tea, Food, Sunflowers… and anything that makes me happy or smile. In all seriousness though, inspiration comes from a variety of places for me, including adventures to new places, animals, food and people. I find myself inspired by things that make me smile and anything that I have a true love of seems to work its way into my jewellery… like cats, sunflowers and cheese, for example! I also love the great outdoors and finding ways to incorporate adventures and places we’ve been to into my work is always fun!

Most of my illustrations are inspired by the wonderful, varied people who commission me! From birthdays, christenings, weddings, anniversaries and pets, capturing people in their favourite outfits, surrounded by their favourite things is always a pretty special and inspiring thing.

Do you have any exciting new works in progress? Any goal for 2020?

At the moment it’s full on CHRISTMAS TIME in the Sunshine studio and I’m very excited about all the newbies I’ve just launched. My Personalised Christmas jumper decorations are back for the 5th year running and I always look forward to people’s requests (especially the naughty or sweary ones!)

Last Summer, my lifelong dream of owning a Sunshine Campervan came true and it’s always been a HUGE business goal of mine to one day draw Portraits from our Sunshine Van. Now we have Buddy and after years of daydreaming, over a year of planning and a whole lot of getting sh*t done, that’s EXACTLY what I’ll be offering for 2020 portrait bookings at weddings and events. It’s VERY scary as I have no idea how our plans will be received but it’s too exciting not to give it my best shot!